The Dukes of Hazzard: Unrated
February 19, 2006
The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) is the latest attempt to resurrect an old T.V. show onto the big screen and give it a hip, contemporary spin, mainly with the casting of Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson, but as every fan of the show knows the real star is the car, the ’69 Dodge Charger known as the General Lee.
Cousins Bo (Scott) and Luke (Knoxville) Duke are in the moonshine business – although, Bo dreams of being a race car driver like his hero, Al Unser. They’re two-fisted, red-blooded Americans who love women, fast cars and get into the occasional bar brawl. This gives the filmmakers an excuse to trot out every good ol’ boy Southern cliché in the book and not in an ironic way (except for an impromptu road trip through Atlanta). Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (Gainey) hopes to bust them for their illegal moonshining but he’s only the enforcer for Boss Hogg (Reynolds), the criminal tycoon of this backwater burg. He hates the Dukes because they are always messing up his schemes.
When Boss Hogg sets up the Dukes (making it near impossible for Bo to drive in an upcoming local car race) and kicks Uncle Jesse off his farm, Bo and Luke decide to even the score and stop Hogg’s latest scheme – some nonsense about buying up lots of land in Hazzard county in order to create a strip mine and exploit the area’s natural resources.
Seann William Scott attacks his role with his usual psychotic enthusiasm and Johnny Knoxville with his usual smart-ass charm but they are thwarted by the boring and unfunny script. They work well together and deserve to be in another, better movie. It’s easy to see why Jessica Simpson was cast – she fulfills the requisite T&A quota and does so adequately but she’s no Catherine Bach that’s for sure. I will say this; Willie Nelson is perfectly cast as Uncle Jesse. He looks like he’s having a blast, especially during the film’s climatic car chase.
There is nothing special about this movie to differentiate it from the T.V. show except that everything is cranked up to 11. One of the few highlights of this movie – aside from the exciting, well-choreographed car chases – is a sly reference to a memorable scene from director Jay Chandrasekhar’s earlier movie, Super Troopers (2001). No wonder The Dukes of Hazzard didn’t do well at the box office – people could just stay home and watch the old show for free. The show itself was never the pinnacle of high art but the movie even fails to measure up to its “lofty” standards. It’s not that they needed to mess with the show’s formula, just make it as good.
The Dukes of Hazzard only reinforces just how devoid of good ideas Hollywood is – on par with the end of the ‘60s when Easy Rider (1969) came along and changed the face of American cinema. There will always be movies like The Dukes of Hazzard that try to shamelessly cash in on a familiar name brand with the same old cliches. Now, more than ever, we need another Easy Rider to stir things up.
“Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts” marks a new low in DVD extras. Jessica Simpson happily chirps away about how she doesn’t have to work as hard as the others because all she has to do is show up and put on a pair of short shorts. Amazingly, the film’s costume designer is able to say with a straight face how fitting Simpson for her shorts is an “exact science.”
“The General Lee Lives” focuses on the classic ’69 Charger. Many were used during the course of the movie for all kinds of shots and stunts. We even see how certain ones were pulled off.
“How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds” takes us through a few of the film’s impressive car stunts, including launching the General Lee several hundred feet in the air. It took the stunt crew a month to get one such aerial stunt to work just right.
“The Hazards of Dukes” is a standard making of featurette. Knoxville and William Scott not surprisingly ham it up in their interviews. On the set footage shows Knoxville to be a real cut-up. Every stunt driver in Hollywood wanted to do this movie once it was green-lighted because it would be so car stunt-intensive.
In case you haven’t seen it enough times on MTV, there is the music video for Jessica Simpson’s cover of “These Boots are Made for Walking.”
Also included are “Additional Scenes” totaling 25 minutes. Most are little bits of business between characters and ones that elaborate a bit more on Boss Hogg’s scheme. “Unrated Additional Scenes” features alternate takes of scenes that feature pot smoking and nudity that definitely would have not made the PG-13 rating.
There are “Bloopers” the show the cast goofing around on set, blowing lines and scenes with laughter. The “Unrated Bloopers” features naughtier goofs with the swearing intact and more sexual humour.
Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.